Antonio Gramsci is my jam.

Gramsci, Antonio. 1988. “Hegemony, Relations of Force, Historical Bloc,” “Intellectuals and Education,” “Philosophy, Common Sense, Language, and Folklore,” and “Popular Culture” In An Antonio Gramsci Reader, ed. David Forgacs, 189–221, 233–234, 420–431. New York: Schocken Books.

“Hegemony, Relations of Force, Historical Bloc,”
192- Structures and superstructures form a historical bloc. That is to say the complex, contradictory, and discordant ensemble of the superstructures is the reflection of the ensemble of the social relations of production.

Historical bloc: the dialectical unity of base and superstructure; of theory and practice, of intellectuals and masses. Superstructures’ ensemble is a reflection of the social relations of production.

philosophy of praxis: both the theory of the contradictions in society and at the same time people’s practical awareness of those contradictions. Philosophy of praxis forms conceptions about the world.  194.

ideology: popular belief (are themselves material forces-215).

The relations of force exists socially, politically, militaristically. “The dominant group is co-ordinated concretely with the general interests of the subordinate groups, an the life of the state is conceived of as a continuous process of formation and superseding of unstable equilibria between the interests of the fundamental group and those of the subordinate groups– equilibria in which the interests of the dominant group prevail, but only up to a certain point” (205-206)

Within the paradigm of relations of force come the terms hegemony and historical bloc.

Gramsci is able to critique Marxism and the individual drive of economic necessity; instead he says people are motivated by desire for and belief in prestige (215).

hegemony: a fundamental social group over a series of subordinate groups; the extent of the support given to constituentist ideologies (216). Sometimes it refers purely to the cultural or ideological influence or as a sphere of pure consent; it is often associated with the dominant ideology. For Gramsci, hegemony is very much tied to the economic activity of the leading group. It can also be characterized by the balance of force and consent. In this way, it is dynamic to the continuous process of formation and superseding of unstable equilibria.

Hegemony serves to maintain the power of the bourgeois and the status quo by equating the interest of the working class with that of the bourgeois.

“Intellectuals and Education,”

Intellectuals: give a social group homogeneity and awareness of its own function. Organic are the intellectuals who emerge from inside the group itself; traditional intellectuals are from the earlier social formations and who may attach to themselves to other fundamental class. In order for the working class to challenge the dominant class, organic intellectuals must arise and overthrow the historical separation between leaders and followers. 306- The intellectuals are the dominant group’s ‘deputies’ exercising the subaltern functions of social hegemony and political government.

Spontaneous consent is given by the great masses and is caused historically by the prestige which the dominant group enjoys (307). As well as the state coerive power which legally enforces discipline on those groups who do not consent either actively or passively.

“Philosophy, Common Sense, Language, and Folklore,”

common sense: ideas about the world that we absorb from outside ourselves and never critique.

contradictory consciousness: it contains elements of truth as well as elements of misrepresentation; these contradictions open up space for leverage in a struggle for political hegemony. Made up of two parts: (333) one which is implicit in his activity and which in reality unites him with all his fellow-workers in the practical transformation of the real world; and one, superficially explicit or verbal, which he has inherited from the past and uncritically absorbed.

347- language: also means culture and philosophy (if only at the level of common sense) and therefore the fact of ‘language’ is in reality a multiplicity of facts more or less organically coherent and co-ordinated.


“Popular Culture”

To Gramsci, dominant and subaltern cultural forms act upon each other historically. He sees pop culture and folklore as containing the sediments or residues of earlier dominant cultural forms which have remained from the past and have entered into combination with other forms.

Spoken communication is a means of ideological diffusion which has a rapidity, a field of action, and an emotional simultaneity far greater than written communication-376


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